Insomnia (sleeplessness): Symptoms, Causes, and Healing with Yoga

Insomnia (sleeplessness) - Fitzabout

Insomnia – sleeplessness – is a common type of sleep disorder that includes difficulty sleeping, difficulty sleeping well, or both.

These conditions are more technically described as SOI (Sleep Onset Insomnia) and SMI (Sleep Maintenance Insomnia).

  1. SOI describes difficulty sleeping. Trouble sleeping can result from caffeine consumption, mental health symptoms, or other common insomnia triggers, but it can also develop with other sleep disorders.
  2. SMI means having trouble falling asleep once you’ve fallen asleep, or waking up too early consistently. This type of insomnia can be related to underlying health and mental health symptoms – but staying awake and worrying that you won’t get enough sleep can make it worse.

In addition to these types of insomnia, the DSM-V associates disturbances in normal daily activities as well as early morning awakenings with an inability to sleep and difficulty sleeping at least 3 nights per week for a period of 3 or more months to the comprehensive definition.

Short of the DSM-V criteria, we find many people with transient insomnia, as opposed to acute and chronic conditions that cause severe sleep deprivation and many problems with daily functioning but are still disturbing.

Also find misconceptions about sleep patterns in which one thinks they have insomnia despite having a low sleep onset insomnia (SOI) or sleep maintenance insomnia (SMI).

Symptoms of Insomnia (sleeplessness)

It can usually recognize by the following symptoms:

  • Waking up too early and finding unable to go back to sleep
  • Spending a lot of nights awake worrying that won’t sleep
  • A consistent pattern of disrupted or broken sleep that doesn’t refresh
  • Trouble sleeping after get on bed

Insomnia causes stress both in the effort to fall asleep and from lack of sleep, leading to:

  • Daytime fatigue
  • Clumsiness
  • Irritability
  • Weakened cognitive function
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It also exacerbates various concomitant conditions, especially depression and anxiety, and can lead to a number of other health problems, including:

  • Heightened stress hormone levels
  • Diabetes
  • Muscle ache
  • Headache
  • Tremors
  • Memory lapses

Causes

As with many health conditions, insomnia can be both a cause and effect of other conditions.

There is strong evidence for the comorbidity of insomnia and other health conditions and behaviors, from depression to diabetes to wound healing.[1][2][3]

Drug abuse (including alcohol and caffeine), hormonal changes, pain, heart disease, arthritis, an unbalanced exercise regimen, and a variety of mental health disorders, including PTSD, ADHD, bipolar disorder, and depression and generalized anxiety disorder, are all are associated with insomnia. ,

There are two main opposing theories of insomnia:

  1. Cognitive: in which rumination and hyperarousal are at play
  2. Physiological: in which urinary cortisol level, glucose utilization, and/or metabolic factor are at play

Hormonal factors also appear to be important, with postmenopausal women experiencing significantly more insomnia than men.

Healing or Treatment

Sedatives are usually prescribed in most cases of clinical insomnia, despite drugs being a secondary treatment.

The antidepressants, antipsychotics, melatonin, and antihistamines are commonly prescribed, as are herbs such as valerian root, cannabis and passion flower.

First aid treatment includes sleep hygiene, which includes:

  • Regular sleep schedule
  • Non-stimulating pre-sleep activity
  • Do moderate exercise well before attempting to sleep
  • Avoid stimulants
  • Creating a conducive sleep environment (dark, quiet, and comfortable)

Research shows that cognitive behavioral therapy is just as effective as medications in short-term treatment, even though they are often given in combination.[4] [5]

Insomnia Healing with Yoga

Yoga is a gentle and restorative way to calm down your day.

There is ample evidence that yoga helps with sleep, including in people with other serious health conditions.

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A national survey found that over 55% of people who practiced yoga found it helped them sleep better. More than 85% said that yoga helped reduce stress.[6] [7]

As with many other health conditions, the benefits of yoga stem from a well-rounded and consistent practice.

Asana exercises that are highly stimulating – flow styles, several interconnected standing postures, backbends, intense abdominal core movement and arm balance – are ideally done in the early part of the day.

Sitting and supine forward bends and hip openers are cool, especially when held for at least several minutes with little or no effort.

Practice all these 10 calming yoga asanas listed below:

  1. Paschimottanasana (Seated Forward Bend Pose)
  2. Balasana (Child’s Pose)
  3. Standing Half Forward Bend (Ardha Uttanasana)
  4. Standing Forward Bend Pose (Uttanasana)
  5. Malasana (Garland Pose)
  6. Viparita Karani (Legs-Up-the-Wall Pose, or Active Reversal Pose)
  7. Supta Baddha Konasana (Reclined Bound Angle Pose)
  8. Sukhasana (Easy Pose)
  9. Matsyasana (Fish Pose)
  10. Savasana (Corpse Pose)

You can use supportive props like bolsters, blankets, and blocks to make the pose comfortable so you can stay in the pose longer and continue to breathe.

Breathing is important to relax in these poses. Breathing in yoga is just as important – if not more important – as physical posture.

Use a gentle and calming yoga breath technique called Ujjayi Pranayama, also known as Ujjayi Breath, or Ocean Breath, or Victorious Breath:

  • Take a deep breath through your nose.
  • With your mouth closed, exhale through your nose while contracting the back of your throat as if you were saying “ha” but keeping your mouth closed.
  • This exhalation should sound like the waves of the ocean (like Darth Vader from Star Wars).

Nadi Shodhana Pranayama also calms down.
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Article Sources +
  1. Depression Co Morbidities. Available here: https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/medicine-and-dentistry/depression-co-morbidities[]
  2. Insomnia and the risk of depression: a meta analysis of prospective cohort studies. Liqing Li, Chunmei Wu, Yong Gan, Xianguo Qu & Zuxun Lu. Available here: https://bmcpsychiatry.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12888-016-1075-3[]
  3. February 13, 2018https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0192088. Nocturnal insomnia symptoms and stress-induced cognitive intrusions in risk for depression: A 2-year prospective study. David A. Kalmbach,Vivek Pillai,Christopher L. Drake. Available here: https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0192088[]
  4. Cognit Ther Res. 2012 Oct 1; 36(5): 427–440. doi: 10.1007/s10608-012-9476-1. PMCID: PMC3584580. NIHMSID: NIHMS394950. PMID: 23459093. The Efficacy of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: A Review of Meta-analyses. Stefan G. Hofmann, Ph.D., Anu Asnaani, M.A., Imke J.J. Vonk, M.A., Alice T. Sawyer, M.A., and Angela Fang, M.A.[]
  5. Why Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Is the Current Gold Standard of Psychotherapy. Daniel David, Ioana Cristea, and Stefan G. Hofmann. Available here: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5797481[]
  6. Wellness-Related Use of Common Complementary Health Approaches Among Adults: United States, 2012. Available here: https://www.nccih.nih.gov/research/wellness-related-use-of-common-complementary-health-approaches-among-adults-united-states-2012[]
  7. National Survey Finds People Use Dietary Supplements and Yoga for Wellness Reasons, Chiropractic for Treating a Condition. Available here: https://www.nccih.nih.gov/research/research-results/national-survey-finds-people-use-dietary-supplements-and-yoga-for-wellness-reasons-chiropractic-for-treating-a-condition[]

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